If you plan to paint your horse stable with a preservative paint, it is essential that the paint be horse-safe. You have a responsibility to make sure that any product you use will not harm the horse in any way.

What makes paint safe for horses? Basically, it means that when the paint is dry and your horse comes in contact with it, the paint will not harm the horse. Protective exterior wood paint can have a multitude of chemicals in it. So, when you shop for paint, you need to look out for the following qualities on the label:

  • Non-toxic
  • Free of volatile organic compounds (VOC)
  • Wax/acrylic or water-based
  • Does not contain petrochemicals, heavy metals, carcinogens, and creosote

We often get questions about paints’ effect on animals. Fumes from paint can irritate animals and humans. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in regular paints and wood varnishes are also harmful.

A good rule of thumb is to always ventilate the rooms that you decorate by opening windows and doors. However, if your horse must be kept indoors, ventilating the space might not be possible. So, paints and varnishes that are horse-safe should be used around the area where the horses live. When you need to repaint or redecorate the walls and doors in areas where your furry and feathered friends live, you need paints that are animal-friendly.

As far as we know, there is no standard for animal-friendliness in a decorating product. So, we need to refer to safety standards set for foods, toys, and paints that have minimal or “virtually zero” VOC.

Under the European Paints Directive, the EU has implemented standards of limiting the level of VOCs in paints. Paints that are below the limit are classified as “low VOC.” Since there is a difference between coatings that can be diluted with water (water-borne) and coatings that can be diluted with organic solvents (solvent-borne), the label of “low VOC” can mean different levels. In general, VOC levels of solvent-borne paints are much higher than that of water-borne paints.

To put it in simple terms, choosing a “low VOC” water-based paint will produce less fumes than a paint that is solvent-borne. Just keep in mind that there is “low VOC” and “virtually zero” VOC.

Pick a Finish

When you have chosen a base, you can choose a finish. Here are the choices:


Because it has no shine, matte or flat finishes are good for rooms where you do not want any light to reflect against the walls. However, walls with a matte finish are harder to clean and have a higher likelihood of harboring the growth of mould and mildew than walls with other finishes. Due to this reason, matte paint is not recommended for areas where there is high humidity or traffic.


Paints with an eggshell finish have a subtle shine to them. These are appropriate for living spaces with moderate foot traffic and contact on walls. They are easier to clean than matte painted walls, but the paint is not as durable. Eggshell paint should not be used on walls that are likely to get dirty. These are fine in rooms that have a more humid environment.


Satin paint is a little glossier than eggshell. As such, it is more stain-resistant and durable. It is good for high-traffic environments. This is often considered the best all-purpose interior paint.

Semi-Gloss and Gloss

These have a higher shine and reflectivity than the other finishes. These are the most easy to clean and are the most durable. These finishes are perfect for woodwork and trims.

If you keep these suggestions in mind, you will be able to find the best paint for your stables that are also safe for your horses and animals.

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